Tigers Visit Children's Hospital

CLEMSON — Clemson interim head coach Dabo Swinney taught his team a lesson Wednesday that cannot be taught on the football field – he taught them a lesson in life.

"There are a lot of ways to coach people," he said. "You can coach them out on the field. You coach them how to block, how to tackle and all that stuff, but you can also coach them on how blessed we are, what we have, and not to take things for granted.

"There is 'no woe is me.' You don't have to look very far to see other people who have a lot more difficult struggles than what we have."

So to get his team to focus on what is really important in life and to see what happened last week really isn't big in the grand scheme of things, Swinney took the Tigers to Greenville Children's Hospital.

"I thought it was just a great team building thing and just a really, really good experience for everybody," he said.

Swinney actually planned the trip last Tuesday, a day after being named interim head coach. He felt this was a break his team needed as they get set to finish the rest of the season a week from Saturday at Boston College.

He also hopes it sends a message that those long faces and the rejection that has come from a season that started with so much promise and optimism, yet has fallen apart, comes to an end.

"That's when I planned this as I kind of mapped out the next seven weeks in developing this football team into a closer team and a better team," Swinney said.

"There are a lot of ways of doing that. We could have gone out there and hit each other today and worked on stuff and we are going to do that tomorrow. But I needed one day to just coach these guys off the field."

The Clemson players visited a lot of kids Wednesday, where they talked to them, signed autographs, handed out "we are in" chips and played video games. There was one particular visit with a young boy that Swinney says made the visit to the children's hospital worthwhile.

"There was one kid in the cancer unit that the nurse said had not been up and out of the bed in four days and had not smiled. But he was up and playing video games with the guys. It was a great thing to see. It was very good for the team."

Swinney says the team has been really good since everything went down last week, but he felt when everything calmed down that it was important to show and tell his players "hey guys, you're blessed." He wants them to understand when they have an opportunity to do what they do, then do not take it for granted.

"It is a privilege to wear this jersey, to be at this university and to have the health that you do what you do. Don't take it for granted and honor it every single day," he said. "For them to see these young people where some of them are really, really sick and some of them are hurt and there are different hopes and dreams.

"Hopefully, it was just a good reality check, but a great team building exercise for us. That is what it is going to have to take. We have to be one. We have to be a team if we are going to get this thing done."

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